Stroke affecting speech is a condition known as aphasia.
Speech is often affected after a left side stroke where the language center of the brain was compromised.
To help you understand how to recover speech after stroke, this article will outline the different types of aphasia.
Then we will discuss treatment and how long it may take to recover speech after stroke.
Let’s dig in.
Types of Speech Problems After Stroke
Understanding the type of aphasia that you have can help you streamline treatment.
Here are the 6 different types of aphasia after stroke:
- Global aphasia: difficulty with speaking, understanding speech, reading, and writing
- Broca’s aphasia/expressive aphasia: difficulty with speech output but may not struggle with understanding
- Mixed non-fluent aphasia: difficulty with speech output and understanding
- Wernicke’s aphasia: ease with speaking, but difficulty conveying or understanding meaning
- Anomic aphasia: ease with understanding speech and reading, but difficulty producing words
- Primary progressive aphasia: progressive worsening of speech likely from other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease
Work with your medical team to diagnose your type of aphasia.
Next, we’ll discuss the timeline and treatments.
Speech Recovery Time After Stroke
Speech problems like aphasia after stroke are relatively common.
Here’s a quick look at the timeline for recovery after stroke:
Over 33% of stroke patients have some form of speech problem immediately after stroke.
Many recover within a few months, but 60% continue to have speech problems over 6 months post-stroke.
However, this poor recovery from aphasia is likely due to the low volume of treatment that most patients receive.
Next, we will discuss the best aphasia treatment and how to increase the volume for better recovery.
Treatment for Speech Problems After Stroke
There are two primary ways to treat aphasia after stroke:
- Work a speech-language pathologist (SLP)
- Practice speech therapy exercises on your own at home
Often, it’s best to do both.
SLPs are highly trained in how to manage speech impairments after neurological injury.
They can diagnose your specific type of aphasia and customize a speech therapy exercise program for you.
Unfortunately, insurance covers a small amount of sessions with an SLP, which is likely the cause of poor speech recovery after stroke.
But the upside, however, is that you can practice effective speech therapy exercises on your own at home.
You can use written speech therapy exercise guides or use language therapy apps – or both!
Methods for Maximizing Recovery
Speech exercises are the best way to regain speech after stroke.
They are the most effective when you implement massed practice, which simply means practicing with high repetition consistently over time.
When you repeat language exercises with high volume, you help spark neuroplasticity in the brain. This helps your brain rewire itself and improve speech after stroke.
The higher your volume of speech therapy exercises, the faster you will improve your recovery time.
Now that you understand the best stroke treatment for aphasia, we’d like to discuss a very important caveat:
What if you can’t talk at all?
How to Recover Speech When You Can’t Talk At All
Surprisingly, even when a stroke patient can’t talk at all, they can usually sing.
That’s because language is a left-brain function, but singing is a creative right-brain function.
Therefore, patients who can’t talk at all should begin aphasia treatment with singing therapy.
How to Communicate with Someone with Speech Difficulties
Dealing with aphaisa can make communication extremely difficult for both patients and caregivers.
To help improve communication, try using these tips:
- Don’t raise your voice – aphasia is a comprehension and speech problem, not a hearing problem
- Have patience with poor memory
- Repeat yourself as needed – and don’t grow frustrated when you must do this
This will help smooth most communication problems with speech-impaired stroke patients.
If you want to further deepen your empathy and understanding, check out our guide to 12 Things That Every Stroke Survivor Wished You Knew.
Summary: Overcoming Speech Problems After Stroke
Speech problems after stroke are a condition known as aphasia, which is common in left side stroke patients.
It’s best to work with a speech-language pathologist to determine which type of aphasia you have.
Then, practice speech therapy exercises with high volume to improve speech after stroke.
The more you practice your exercises, the more your speech will improve!